A True Energy AmbassadorOctober 17, 2023
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is recognized each October to celebrate the many and varied contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities and increase understanding about disability employment needs.
The spirit of this recognition is embodied in Daniel Smrokowski, who serves as both a ComEd Energy Force Ambassador and a podcaster whose weekly program seeks to create a better understanding of inclusion for people with disabilities.
As an Energy Force Ambassador, Daniel makes his way across communities to educate people about the benefits of energy efficiency and going solar. Through his podcast, which is available at SpecialChronicles.com, Daniel tells special needs stories in a unique way because he is a person with special needs.
Launching Special Chronicles
Daniel begins most weeks researching enlightening topics for his podcast or reviewing his list of people who have insights that might benefit the public.
Daniel’s journey into podcasting started 15 years ago as a student at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. When the school’s radio station went off the air and came back as a streaming service, Daniel was there to learn how to manage the transition to this new medium.
As a Special Olympics athlete, Daniel took every opportunity he could to share his experiences — both on the field and off — as a person with disabilities. When the university station went looking for streaming content, Daniel offered up his speeches as a way to expand the number of people who could learn from his experiences.
Among Daniel’s most memorable podcasts is his interview with the chairman of the Special Olympics Timothy Shriver, Ph.D., during the organization’s 50-year anniversary. “It took a lot of work to connect with Tim and get him to agree to do the podcast. I got to talk about his first book, “Fully Alive.” Because of his schedule, we had to set up and record in the hallway of the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago, where the Special Olympics was holding a series of meetings.”
Daniel says one of his proudest moments was having the opportunity to talk with a listener who admitted to “using the R word.” “I got to talk about the abilities of my friends, not their disabilities,” Daniel said. “My stories changed the perspective of this individual. That’s the biggest benefit of what I’m doing. To change perspectives by telling stories.”
Becoming a ComEd Ambassador
Daniel got involved with ComEd’s Energy Force as an ambassador six years ago, when he came across a ComEd information tent at a local community event. Energy Force is the country’s first energy-efficiency education program designed for and taught by people with disabilities.
Participants receive training on ComEd programs that can help people save money and energy. They then attend community events and help educate people about options.
Daniel introduced himself to a ComEd representative and was quickly immersed in information that could help him teach others about how to manage their energy bills.
“During the first five years, I staffed a lot of events,” Daniel said. “Eventually, I thought I might be able to reach even more people if I dedicated one to two episodes of my podcasts to the Energy Force Ambassador program, energy-efficiency topics and ways to save money and energy.”
Daniel said he returned to his contacts at ComEd to identify knowledgeable representatives who could appear on his podcasts and share tips on how to save energy.
Today, Daniel has filed close to a dozen energy-efficiency podcasts, and the number is growing. Daniel says his goal is to help simplify complex and technical energy topics into stories that would help people.
In the future, Daniel would like to expand his guest list to include executives of some of the Chicago area’s biggest companies. He’s recently had meetings with executives at companies like United Airlines to show leaders the benefits of inclusion in the workforce.
“It’s empowering to be able to share stories and create a better understanding of inclusion for people with disabilities,” Daniel said, “and to show the love and joy that people with disabilities bring every day!”
Finding Daniel’s Educational Content
You can follow @specialchronicles on Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as subscribe to, rate and review Special Chronicles on ApplePodcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.